3 ways to turn the nameless telco customer into a brand enthusiast
Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Ari Vänttinen, CMO of Comptel.
Now more than ever, telcos need to be focused on customer retention. Mobile data plans have largely saturated the market, meaning that growing market share — at least in developed countries — can be competitive.
While some customers are satisfied with their mobile carrier, that may no longer be enough to retain their business. In a recent survey of more than 2,000 U.S. and U.K. mobile subscribers, 52% said their mobile carrier treats them like just another nameless customer.
This is an alarming discovery — if over half of your customers feel like they're unimportant to you, what's to keep them from drifting to a competitor? Changing this perception could mean big business for telcos, by improving long-term sales and developing brand enthusiasts.
In addition to making customers feel valued as individuals, personalization helps breed retention. Mobile data customers who feel that their carrier values their business and communicates with them in a personalized way are 3x more likely to feel loyal to that given brand, according to the survey. Telcos who are still investing in mass marketing and focusing on profits over customer satisfaction have clearly missed a step by not treating customers individually.
Focusing on personalization, however, can make customers more invested and feel more valued. Here are three steps telcos should take to treat customers better by giving them an individualized experience:
1.) Be more proactive
One way to engage customers on a personal level is to send them proactive alerts at key moments in their service lifecycle. In fact, 55% of mobile data customers are eager to receive proactive, personalized alerts and offers, such as receiving a text when they aren't taking advantage of certain parts of their plan or being notified when they are using a lot of data in areas where public Wi-Fi is available.
Consider the example of a customer who, according to data usage trends, uses Netflix more than any other app. But the trends also show that this customer is dangerously close to reaching her data cap. Why not send this customer an offer for a data package that includes unlimited Netflix access the next time she opens the app? Better yet, be proactive: Send that personalized offer the moment the customer nears her data threshold, warning her she's likely to run out of data in the middle of her next binge-watching session.
2.) Offer customers more control
Many customers want to take a proactive role in managing their mobile experience. Give them more information and give them more choices by offering flex data plans. When customers can pick what they want based on their changing data needs, they feel more engaged, more involved and more like they can have an individualized experience.
Instead of simply offering small, medium and large plans, many telco companies are finding success with more flexible options. In Germany, for example, Deutsche Telekom's DayFlat allows customers to purchase 24 hours of unlimited data so they can use data-intensive services and applications without eating into the data allowance on their plan.
Customers in the U.S. might take advantage of PopData, a similar offering from Verizon, which lets you buy unlimited 4G LTE data in increments of 30 minutes. If you want to enjoy an uninterrupted stream of a sporting event but don't have access to Wi-Fi, PopData gives you a brief period of unlimited data, so you don't have to worry about your data cap.
Giving customers control, both in terms of service flexibility and how they engage with their operator, makes them feel like their voice is heard.
3.) Give customers what they want
It might seem like a no-brainer that you need to give customers what they want. Yet, too often customers are unsatisfied with their mobile carrier. Whether they're dealing with unexpected fees or running out of data because of extensive streaming, frustration with mobile service offerings can engender resentment. A customer might wonder, "If they're not giving me what I want, why should I stay?"
So, what do customers really want? We already know customers want more data and high-quality digital services, at the best possible price. You can give them exactly that by developing creative service plans and seeking partnerships with content partners.
For example, frequent mobile streaming using apps like Spotify or Netflix can quickly eat up most of a customer's monthly data allowance. To alleviate that frustration, T-Mobile has partnered with a number of streaming giants to create two offerings, "Music Freedom" and "Binge On." These offerings, included with most mobile plans, allow you to stream as much music or video as you want without it counting towards your data plan.
When customers get more of what they want, they're likely to stay. Personalization, though very much still in its infancy, is what consumers crave most.